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Author Topic: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?  (Read 3795 times)

Stewbyyy

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300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« on: April 02, 2013, 08:51:03 AM »
Hello all,

I'm an 18 year old sports photographer in Dublin, Ireland and I'm trying to build up my reputation and get out there more. My main used lens at the moment is the 300mm F/4L non-IS on a 1D Mark IIN and I'm looking at getting a 300mm F/2,8 so I can work under floodlights for rugby/football.

I hear a lot of bad about this lens, because Canon will no-longer repair it and it focuses by wire (not entirely sure what that means). If I could get it for around, or a little over €1,000 ($1,200 USD or so) in reasonably good condition is it worth it? Would it be a stupid thing to do? Would going for a Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 OS be smarter? I could probably get one of them for the same price, or maybe the first version of the Sigma.

I'm on a very tight budget, as I'm a student and still trying to be able to even afford a car and living costs, so the 300 F/2.8 IS is definitely out of the question, but I would definitely consider any third party F/2.8 alternatives if there are any.
Everything is ridiculously expensive in Ireland, I would contemplate going to the UK to get things cheaper even. I was quoted €500 for a Pelican 1510 case from the biggest camera shop in Dublin, it was €260 to order it online from the UK, inclusive of shipping...

Thanks.
Stuart

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300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« on: April 02, 2013, 08:51:03 AM »

dolina

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2013, 09:36:39 AM »
Stuart,

I'd ask all the camera repair shops in the UK if they can still repair the lens if it breaks down. Ask them if they have parts available on hand.

Your lens was manufactured from 1987 to 1999 so it is possible that Canon stopped making spare parts for it.

As private mentioned $1,200 seems reasonable  even if you only get 12 months' work out of it.
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AlanF

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 12:38:34 PM »
Stuart,

I'd ask all the camera repair shops in the UK if they can still repair the lens if it breaks down. Ask them if they have parts available on hand.

Your lens was manufactured from 1987 to 1999 so it is possible that Canon stopped making spare parts for it.

As private mentioned $1,200 seems reasonable  even if you only get 12 months' work out of it.

Dublin, Ireland is not in the UK.
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Stewbyyy

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 01:51:00 PM »
I appreciate your comments, guys.

Is there any additional risk for it breaking because it focuses by wire? Or do many people just overreact about it being so terrible?
To add to that, is there any way to tell when testing the lens for the first time if the focus is in good condition? Or could it just go at any time, without warning?


dr croubie

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 06:06:32 AM »
I don't think that the FBW adds more chance of breakage per se, it's just that once it's dead, it's really dead.
I haven't looked at prices, but if they're roughly the same i'd be doing the Sigma 120-300.
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jhpeterson

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2013, 09:38:17 AM »
Over the past 20+ years I've had two 300mm f:2.8 non-IS lenses. In that time they've been the source of much if not most of my published, as well as personally favorite, work.  In fact, I'm convinced that, during the interval I was without one, the quality of my photography suffered. Between the sharpness (on par with the best of L primes), its shallow depth of field and pleasing bokeh, is that good a lens that it is almost certain to make a better photographer out of you. 
That said, there are reasons to be cautious about purchasing one. Almost all are 15 or more years old now, and some are as much as 25, making the availability of replacement parts an issue. I don't think FBW, by itself, is too much of a problem, but, rather, that Canon no longer supports this lens. You will need to find an independent source that's sufficiently skilled and resourceful to perform repairs, which, depending on where you live, will be anywhere from a moderate challenge to being totally out of the question. Case in point, a couple years ago, I needed to replace the rear mount. Pretty straightforward, right? Seeing that I couldn't get the part from Canon (and I'm a CPS member) so I could fix it myself, I took it to this area's best repair shop (I live less than an hour from Minneapolis-St. Paul). It turned out to take more than a couple weeks, as they had to order the part for a 300/2.8 IS, then, when it came in, machine it so it fit. Something to think about as you consider this lens.
What I hope to convey to you is that I highly recommend the 300mm f:2.8 non-IS. Few, if any, other lenses or cameras would give you as much "bang for the buck". But, be aware that, if it breaks, you may not be able to get it fixed. And, seeing how much you're almost certain to develop an attachment to this lens, THAT could be your greatest problem.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 09:40:14 AM by jhpeterson »
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Stewbyyy

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2013, 05:38:41 PM »
Some very good information, thank you!

Over the past 20+ years I've had two 300mm f:2.8 non-IS lenses. In that time they've been the source of much if not most of my published, as well as personally favorite, work.  In fact, I'm convinced that, during the interval I was without one, the quality of my photography suffered. Between the sharpness (on par with the best of L primes), its shallow depth of field and pleasing bokeh, is that good a lens that it is almost certain to make a better photographer out of you. 
That said, there are reasons to be cautious about purchasing one. Almost all are 15 or more years old now, and some are as much as 25, making the availability of replacement parts an issue. I don't think FBW, by itself, is too much of a problem, but, rather, that Canon no longer supports this lens. You will need to find an independent source that's sufficiently skilled and resourceful to perform repairs, which, depending on where you live, will be anywhere from a moderate challenge to being totally out of the question. Case in point, a couple years ago, I needed to replace the rear mount. Pretty straightforward, right? Seeing that I couldn't get the part from Canon (and I'm a CPS member) so I could fix it myself, I took it to this area's best repair shop (I live less than an hour from Minneapolis-St. Paul). It turned out to take more than a couple weeks, as they had to order the part for a 300/2.8 IS, then, when it came in, machine it so it fit. Something to think about as you consider this lens.
What I hope to convey to you is that I highly recommend the 300mm f:2.8 non-IS. Few, if any, other lenses or cameras would give you as much "bang for the buck". But, be aware that, if it breaks, you may not be able to get it fixed. And, seeing how much you're almost certain to develop an attachment to this lens, THAT could be your greatest problem.

I do have a Canon authorised repair centre not too far from where I live, I know they supply all the Canon equipment to the biggest sports photography agency here in Dublin. I've heard that they've been able to fiddle around with equipment that is no longer covered by Canon but apparently it costs quite a significant amount, which wouldn't really surprise me.

It's hard to judge at the moment, it would be smarter to buy one of the newer IS versions to have it covered by Canon but the money isn't there to afford it. I know I'll eventually end up buying one and spending more money in the long run then I would have liked but I think, going with what can be afforded in the immediate future will benefit me by earning more money straight away.

I live with the reality that most of my gear could break down at any point, I'm still using 1D Mark IIN's (both beaten to bits), have a 300mm F/4 from 1995 (MF ring doesn't work) and a 70-200mm F/2.8 from 2001 (has more dents, bashes and scrapes than a car in a scrapyard), none of them have ever been serviced as I've never had the money at a set particular time. I seem to live on the edge with my equipment :P

When I'm able to fully get the money together I think I'll take the plunge and hope it pays off. Just have to wait for some more to pop up on the second hand market here in Ireland, or else head over to the US for a few days to pick one up!

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2013, 05:38:41 PM »

John

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2013, 07:15:35 PM »
i can't speak to the non-IS version of the lens since i use the newer IS version. but i can tell u that i love shooting outdoor sports like baseball and soccer with 300mm lens. i highly recommend that u consider this focal length in a prime lens. i take a lot of tack sharp shots that continue to amaze me after many years of shooting with it as a professional. it is easily one of my favorite lenses. i sometimes use it with a 1.4x teleconverter to extend its range. this causes the lens to lose a stop to f/4, but no big deal. it still focuses really fast with the teleconverter and produces awesome images. i've never had an issue with my lens.

by the way, i never shoot with the IS turned on. i always shoot outdoor sports with the 300mm lens mounted on a monopod. in my opinion it is too heavy and awkward to shoot hand held. u should definitely get a monopod to use with this lens. u will love shooting this way and your image sharpness will be much better. plus, the lens and camera gets heavy after a while. this is not an issue if the lens if on a monopod.



Stewbyyy

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2013, 07:20:37 PM »
i can't speak to the non-IS version of the lens since i use the newer IS version. but i can tell u that i love shooting outdoor sports like baseball and soccer with 300mm lens. i highly recommend that u consider this focal length in a prime lens. i take a lot of tack sharp shots that continue to amaze me after many years of shooting with it as a professional. it is easily one of my favorite lenses. i sometimes use it with a 1.4x teleconverter to extend its range. this causes the lens to lose a stop to f/4, but no big deal. it still focuses really fast with the teleconverter and produces awesome images. i've never had an issue with my lens.

by the way, i never shoot with the IS turned on. i always shoot outdoor sports with the 300mm lens mounted on a monopod. in my opinion it is too heavy and awkward to shoot hand held. u should definitely get a monopod to use with this lens. u will love shooting this way and your image sharpness will be much better. plus, the lens and camera gets heavy after a while. this is not an issue if the lens if on a monopod.

Indeed, I do have a monopod already. I always use it with the 300mm F/4 just because I prefer to sit on my pelican case when I'm shooting sports. I've never had the luxury of owning a Canon lens with IS! haha

I do really like the 300mm focal length, but I find it quite short for most things. Thus involving a lot of cropping in post. The real aim would be to have a 400mm F/2.8 but that's just way out of reach at the moment! I would intend to buy a 1.4x teleconverter for use with the 300mm F/2.8 during the day, then use it without the converter for night games most of the time. I thought that was a reasonably good compromise for the price. Especially on the 1.3x cropped sensor of the 1D Mark IIN, or, I also have a 40D if I wanted a bit more reach but I've never been happy with the IQ from that camera.

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jhpeterson

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2013, 10:39:40 PM »
Stewbyyy, I too would recommend the 1.4 x teleconverter, and in particular the Canon EF model in either version II or III. I probably use it with this lens at least as much as I do without and I see little if any difference in image quality.  While one loses a bit of contrast and probably resolution in the corners, this lens still delivers where it counts.
One word of caution is that the autofocusing slows down in low light. But, if you are shooting action, you probably will want to remove the converter anyway.
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bdunbar79

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2013, 12:04:24 AM »
You'll be fine.  If you have the money, just get it.  The 1.3x crop factor of your 1D IIN's is perfect!  I always prefer 400mm for football and soccer, and even track, so 390 equivalent for you is great.  Don't worry about it breaking so much.  If it does you'll have to deal with it then, but for the most part just get it and shoot with it and have fun!  I don't use IS either, as I use my 300 and 400 on a monopod and usually keep it up near 1/3200 if I can.  At night that is really tough, as I've had to go down to 1/500 in some locations, but you'll get the hang of it.
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optikus

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2013, 01:26:57 AM »
Hi,

my proposal is to acquire a non IS for that price in good condition and use it as far as possible. These lenses, beginning with the FL Flourite in the past until today to the newest IS are legendary and under the most used professional primes of canon. So don't be worried about coordinating your budget and the prices of those lenses. It makes no sense to think about less quality lenses with more modern features if you have the chance to get such a workhorse in good condition for that price. We can do networking over the world if necessary - so it should be possible, in case of a necessary repair, to manage it, don't you think so?

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Stewbyyy

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2013, 07:18:54 PM »
Good tip not to worry about it breaking, I guess I'm just a bit paranoid because it will be the most expensive thing I buy yet!

Definitely going to be getting a converter with it as well. Even with the additional reach of the 1D Mark IIN I find it 300mm too short for rugby, I had the 300mm F/4 on the 40D which was a good bit better but my 40D's IQ is just terrible in comparison, I don't like the shots it produces, no where close to as much detail and I get way more shots out of focus.

Now I just have to save a bit more money before taking the plunge!

Thanks for all the help.

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Re: 300mm F/2.8 non-IS... worth it?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2013, 07:18:54 PM »